Author: Justin Mckibben
Jealousy is an ugly thing, but we all have a habit of harvesting it in some shape or another. Be it envy of property or prestige, or a resentment of romantic origins, we all have a way of getting a little bent out of shape over the whole grass-is-greener scenario. Not to be cynical, we are all perfect in our imperfections, but to acknowledge jealousy as part of our human condition is necessary in order to improve ourselves.
Jealousy can turn friends into foes, co-workers and peers into rivals, and lovers into bitter exes simply by enticing our insecurities. Jealousy can corrupt our intentions, and turn our trust into anxiety.
Now, researchers are saying jealousy also has the power to turn drinkers into alcoholics. This is rooted in the idea that people who depend on their relationships to make them feel complete or content are more likely to drown their sorrows if they suspect the one they are with to be cheating.
Probing Problem Drinkers
Researchers at the University of Houston recently published a study in Addictive Behaviors where they examined the drinking patterns and romantic relationships of 277 people, and they hones in on links between 3 main factors they hypothesized could help identify people at risk of alcoholism:
- Romantic Jealousy
- Relationship-dependent Self-esteem
- Alcohol Problems
What they found were those experiencing jealousy were more likely to be a problem drinker… that is IF the jealousy stemmed from being in an unhappy relationship and having one’s self-worth primarily dependent on the other person.
87% of the participants in the study were women, and everyone involved was asked to fill out questionnaires pertaining to:
- Their level of satisfaction in a relationship
- Their level of self-esteem
- Their alcohol use
- Or course… jealousy
Through the process and the data collected, researchers determined many people would turn to alcohol to cope when experiencing jealousy in their romantic relationships.
Again, the emphasis on this pattern was especially pronounced among those who were in “low-quality” relationships where the individuals surveyed felt:
- Less satisfied
- Less committed
- Disconnected from their partners
So it wasn’t to say that EVERY person who experienced jealously in their relationship was going to develop a drinking problem, but those who show specific traits in their love life are more likely to go on binders when things go wrong.
Impact and Awareness
Alcohol abuse is a serious issue. It is often underestimated in America, but it’s impact is profound and understanding the elements of progressive alcohol abuse is important to prevention and raising awareness.
As the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the United States, alcohol abuse accounts for 1 in 10 deaths for working-age adults. That’s around 88,000 deaths per year in this nation and 2.5 million deaths at a global scale per year. While becoming an alcoholic cannot be put squarely on the shoulders on relationship issues, it seems plenty alcoholic drinkers end up working their way toward excessive drinking through problems with their romantic relationships.
The lead author of the study Dr. Angelo DiBello stated,
“Romantic jealousy is a shared human experience, but very little work has looked at how it is related to alcohol use, misuse and associated problems. This research helps to highlight the associations between these factors and show how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are related in potentially harmful ways.”
Scientists hope that these findings could offer more insight into how relationships can impact self-esteem, and how all these elements could eventually help identify alcoholism more quickly and even get a head start on prevention.
With an alcoholic feeling those feels is actually a pretty common excuse we use to drink. People in recovery have probably heard more than once about someone’s relationship creating a set of circumstances that led them to isolation and discontentment, so relationships are often given this bad reputation as a leading cause of relapse for the alcoholic.
In reality, if you are spiritually fit and work on yourself, you don’t run this kind of risk. THAT is the big point made so far in this research. An alcoholic is not made by one defect or another. If every jealous person was an alcoholic then meetings would be a lot bigger.
The people in the study who had a fulfilled life and were self-sufficient in their happiness and quality of life didn’t have a risk of severe drinking problems like those who were co-dependent and jealous. If we are to survive the little things like jealousy and resentment, our worth as an individual has to come from the inside. YOU are not your relationship, and when you forget it then your relationship has the power to undermine your recovery.
“There is no greater glory than love, nor any greater punishment than jealousy.”
-Lope de Vega
An alcoholic drinks for the effect, and the blame for the desired effect can be put on any number of our flaws as people, but in reality there is always a choice. As an alcoholic you still have a choice; you can continue down the path that too often leads to death, or you can recover. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135